Over the last two weeks most year levels within the Preparatory School have completed ACER’s Progressive Achievement Testing (PAT). These tests are widely used throughout Australia and around the world as a tool to track student learning and school academic programs. The assessments focus on monitoring student growth over time and is underpinned by an understanding that students of the same age and in the same year of school can be at very different points in their learning and development.
The Middle and Upper Primary year levels at Westminster have been using this tool for a number of years. Recently ACER released Early Years PAT testing, which is the Junior Primary equivalent. All of these tests are administered online and provide a glimpse of each child’s learning at that point in time. These tests are designed to help teachers and schools determine achievement levels of students, growth, potential strengths and areas of learning that may need extra support. In 2017 Westminster Preparatory School engaged Marc Kralj (ACER Consultant) to work alongside our staff to develop our skills in analysing the data provided from these assessments. We spent time working with Marc identifying ways of using the data to highlight patterns, student achievement and areas that need development.
The School has begun to refer to achievement bands that sit within these tests to help tailor learning within the classrooms and communicate with parents. It is very normal for a child to sit within these achievement bands for a period of time as they consolidate their learning and become more accomplished at using the skills and knowledge that sit within each band.
It is important to note that ACER themselves highlight the fact that Progressive Achievement Testing should always be considered alongside other assessment information. Parent-Teacher interviews, school reports, in-class assessment pieces, assessment portfolios and point in time teacher feedback all help to paint a picture of a child’s growth and development. At Westminster we also recognise that there are some elements of growth, social and emotional development that we cannot measure. For these areas of our students’ development, our pastoral and wellbeing programs come to the fore in supporting students at Westminster School to achieve more than they thought possible.
Deputy of Preparatory School: Junior Primary
Westminster has this year had three Prep School teams participate in the Debating SA Year 6/7 Schools Competition. Under the weekly instruction of Ms Sonja Lowen, the teams have prepared debate topics and countered other schools in four rounds of debates.
Our Blue team has been particularly successful, winning all four debates and proceeding through to the Quarter finals, then to the Semi-Finals and even making it to the Grand Final held in the South Australian Parliament House last Saturday. Arguing the negative case for ‘That school canteens should have a meat-free Monday’ the team narrowly lost to Burnside Primary. We are very proud of all our teams in their involvement in debating this year.
A reflection by our Year 5 students.
On 16 September 2019, all the Year 5 students woke up extra early in the morning to drive to Adelaide Airport. Mrs Daniel, Mr Mather, Mr Genikas, Mrs Mori, Mrs Darrell and Mr Weatherald greeted us. We patiently waited for our baggage to be placed onto the aircraft, boarded the plane and in no time we were at our destination, Melbourne. We collected our luggage and hopped on the bus towards Melbourne Gaol.
Numerous students loved visiting the Melbourne Gaol. Everyone was a bit nervous but still loved learning about Ned Kelly and other famous prisoners. Students found it interesting that gaols had changed so much since the 1850s. After our fascinating tour finished we departed to Sovereign Hill, found out our dorms, had dinner at New York bakery and tried to go to sleep. We were very excited for the next day.
On Tuesday morning, 17 September, we were thrilled about getting in to 1850s costumes for the transformation into the 1850s living museum. After changing, Ma’am took us for a short tour around the goldfields, which included seeing animals, tents and buildings. Our school Ma’am read many old stories, taught us songs and while the girls sewed, the boys did some technical drawing. We had to recite our 16 (ounces) and 12 (feet) times tables and some poetry. After the lovely day’s experience of the old school, we were excited for the night time pantomime show. That night we saw a hilarious pantomime performance, which was very amusing. The magic tricks made everyone laugh because of the simplicity and obviousness of them. There were many funny twists and interaction from the audience. At the end of the show, they gave us a chance to ask them thoughtful questions. Following the show, we were all very tired, so we got straight to sleep eager for the very big day ahead of us.
On Wednesday morning, 18 September, we got dressed into our costumes for our final day in the 1850s school. We learnt how to write copper plate writing with ink, which was fun and very messy. We played some 1850s games like graces, skipping, marbles, quoits and ball in cup. We had a delicious lunch at the New York bakery and soon after we headed back to class. Ma’am was very strict with sayings like “Children should be seen and not heard” and “Discipline and repetition”.
After thanking Ma’am we had free time to go down the main street in groups and went shopping and gold mining. We had to yell “EUREKA!” if we found any gold, which most of us did. Some of the stores were the confectionery, tinsmith, blacksmith, post office, soap and candle maker, dressmaker and the jewellery store. In the confectionery there were fresh raspberry drops that smelt AMAZING. When you stepped into the stores, they looked so beautiful and we just wished that we could buy everything in there. It was an excellent shopping trip.
In the evening, we went to the AURA light show, which taught us about how gold was formed, and the lead up to the Eureka Stockade. We wore 3D glasses for the first part and then hopped onto a carriage and drove to the outside theatre. The show was about the first inhabitants, and how the land changed after the migration of people during the gold rush. It was incredible with all the projected images and real fireworks. We loved the great experience and enjoyed learning about the living conditions for both the miners and the Aboriginal people. Overall, we all thought that the AURA light show was one of the best things of the whole camp.
The next day, we woke up early, packed our bags and had our final dorm inspection after breakfast. Soon, we arrived at the MCG and saw the change rooms, many famous statues and the massive grounds. Can you believe that the grounds are 250m long and 150m wide? Next, we were very fortunate to meet a famous 2016 Olympian who helped Australia come third for archery. His name was Alec Potts. We had time for questions, had a photo and then had lunch in a local park. After our nutritious lunch, we left for the airport and checked in. We were so early that we had to wait an hour for our plane. In that time, we talked about the fantastic highlights of our camp and how brilliant it was. We also thanked our caring Westminster staff and other thoughtful students. We were soon on our way back home and after landing safely, we were very excited to see our wonderful parents. We had many positive comments about our behaviour and manners over the camp. Overall, we thought it was a marvellous camp and we loved being part of the living museum. It was totally fun and educational, and we highly recommend it for next year’s students.
From Wednesday 18 to Friday 20 September, 47 of our talented Years 6 and 7 musicians participated in the biennial Preparatory School Music Tour. The Concert Band and Rock Band combined with a small group of actors to perform a show titled ‘What’s that song’. The show took the form of a quiz show where contestants had to name the title and artist for each song. Our students performed four shows at the following schools: Eden Hills Primary School, two shows at Maitland Lutheran School and our final and best show for the combined audience of Curramulka and Stansbury Primary Schools.
Taking our musicians away from school to perform in a variety of settings, enabled them to experience what it is like to perform for a live audience. Each performance and setting was unique, bringing its own challenges or surprises. Overwhelmingly, our students reported that what they enjoyed most was seeing the expressions on the audiences’ faces when they performed. Congratulations to all students. You represented Westminster very well and we hope you take away great memories and a wonderful sense of satisfaction.
Thank you to the staff who made this possible, Mrs Tiffany Hunter, Mr Barry Walker, Mr Jon Dyer, Mr Paul Jankovic and Ms Karen Wandel and thank you to our tour roadies, Hugh Smith, Sarah Koukourou and Lily Doyle.
“My favourite moment in the tour was when we had just come off the stage and the teachers were performing and then we all just started dancing with the kids from the other school.” - Charlotte Burt
“I enjoyed the children clapping along to the songs and singing and playing my instrument.” - Chal Appukuttan
“Music tour was so much fun. I enjoyed playing for other kids. It makes them happy and it makes me happy.” - Grady Sayers
“Music tour is worthwhile because it gives students the opportunity to see schools that are very different to our own. We end up appreciating how lucky we are.” - Anonymous
This year three teams from Westminster Preparatory School have been selected to compete in the Future Problem Solving National Finals. The Year 5/6 team, consisting of Michael Gough (Year 6 Crown), Diya Patel (Year 6 Wesley), Joshua Bund (Year 6 Mace), Olivia Fok (Year 6 Mace), Kate Daniel (Year 5 Wyvern), Georgie Burt (Year 5 Wyvern), Eva Bratkovic (Year 6 Wesley), Michael Pope (Year 6 Charter), Rhea Dinesh (Year 6 Charter), Jeffery Wang (Year 6 Mace), Gerard McGinley (Year 5 Mace), along with the Year 7 team, consisting of Charlotte Burt (Wyvern), Summer Wong (Crown), Ruby Leong-Moore (Wyvern), Nikolas Damato (Wyvern), Jacob Frankel (Wyvern) and Jack White (Abbey), will be heading to Brisbane in October to compete against other schools to solve the Coping with Stress problem. We would like to thank Megha Wijewardne for training with the Year 5/6 teams this year.
This year Westminster Preparatory School introduced a new competition, Future Problem Solving Scenario Writing. Students in Years 5, 6 and 7 wrote a 1500 word futuristic piece related to one of the five FPS topics. Diya Patel and Summer Wong’s stories were selected by the FPS evaluators to represent Westminster Preparatory School at the National Finals. Good luck to all the contestants as they prepare for the finals.
The Haslam Library was full of excitement last week when some Year 2 students became the first group of children in the world to see and hear Mem Fox’s new, yet to be released, picture book ‘The Tiny Star’. As if that wasn’t enough excitement, the students were treated to a visit by the author herself. Mem joined us in the Haslam Library to share five of her stories, three very well-known classics and two new books. ‘The Tiny Star’ includes illustrations by one of my favourite illustrators, Freya Blackwood. It is due for release on 1 October and is a beautiful book, which on its blurb is described as, “a truly unique and moving story about the journey of life, to be cherished and shared for generations to come”. Mem acknowledged the work of the illustrators for each of her books explaining to the children that a picture book is half story and half pictures. Illustrators do not always get the recognition they deserve and Mem most definitely appreciates what the illustrations bring to her words.
Students enjoyed the happiness in the story as well as recognising the thought provoking sad parts of the book. After the reading, they provided Mem with their opinions and luckily, but not surprisingly, all comments were positive. With recent work in class being based around life cycles this was a perfect story for them. Omar in 2F summed it up really well when he said that “the story turned sadness in to gladness”.
The other new book Mem shared with us, due for release a little later in the year, was ‘Roly Poly’. Roly Poly is a polar bear who gets a little brother he did not ask for. Many of the children could identify with this story about sibling rivalry. They particularly liked the illustrations which are actually photographs of toy polar bears that the illustrator Jane Dyer handmade using wool from her very own sheep. Lexie in 2W was excited when Mem pointed out that in one of the scenes in the book there is a small copy of ‘Time for Bed’, another of her books also illustrated by Jane. Lexie told Mem that she had a copy of the book at home and it was a favourite bedtime story.
On behalf of the Year 2 students and teachers I would like to thank Mem for, once again, spending some time with us in the Haslam Library. We feel very privileged to have a local author willing to do so. That is not to say that you have to be an award winning author to come and read. If you are a grandparent who enjoys sharing stories, please contact me via Email as I would like to organise some sessions involving a variety of readers.
During Term 2, students in Reception to Year 2 as well as Years 5 and 6 students entered a Premier’s Reading Challenge competition. Participants were asked to choose and read a STEM related book from the PRC.
Reception to Year 2 students listened to a picture book during their library lesson and created their own drawing linked to the topics discussed in the book. After choosing their own book to read the Year 5 students were asked to design an invention based on something from the book. This was set as a homework task. Similarly, the Year 6 homework task to fit the competition criteria was to design a poster which highlighted the STEM features of their chosen book.
As a school we entered a total of 298 drawings and posters, and as a resulted we were rewarded for our efforts with a winner’s certificate and book prize for the most entries from any school. Mr Mark A. Williams, Manager of Premier’s Challenges visited our Assembly to share some other exciting news. Unfortunately, there were no winners in the R-2 category, but in the Year 5 competition Naite Johnson (Year 5 Wyvern) won first prize. He was congratulated for his invention of a ‘single mother seahorse carry bag’ inspired after reading ‘Seahorse’ by Greg Pyers. Naite was presented with a certificate, two books and a family pass to the Adelaide Zoo.
In the Year 6-9 category Westminster had two prize winners. Jeremy Shepherd was awarded a runner-up prize for reading the novel ‘Blueback’ by Tim Winton and designing a poster based around abalone conservation. He received a certificate, book and a gift card for Dymocks bookstore.
The winner was announced as being Ollie Mattinson. Ollie had chosen to read ‘How to bee’ written by Bren MacDibble and, after further research, had designed a poster about the life of bees and their importance to our environment. Ollie was presented with a certificate, two books and a family pass to the Adelaide Zoo.
As Teacher Librarians we were very pleased with the interest that the competition generated. Students were encouraged to read a different genre or style of book to what they might usually choose. Some students went on to read more books on their topic to extend their knowledge or simply started to browse around the Library for new options to read. Overall, the experience was a positive way to continue promoting reading and one that we feel we will open up to all Prep students next year.
Julia Baldwin and Sara Mori